Satan's Roller-Coaster Ride...Or, The Bays Mountain 15-Miler by Jeff Bloomer

The Bays Mountain 15-Miler just came and went and for the third time doing the race I ate dirt. This last race was my best because I only hit the ground once and it happened right in front of my running buddy, Ray Jones. He sprang into action and made it over safely. No skinned knees for Ray this year. My legs were dead and my left foot snagged a root. I didn’t even try to catch myself. I simply spun around and landed flat on my back with my head pointing down the mountain descent. What do you do in a situation like that? Well, I turned back around and kept moving down the mountain. I knew it was going to be painful going into it and dirt stains are a badge of honor.

Every time I run Bays Mountain, I live bigger and die harder. Every time I run Bays Mountain I wonder why I thought it would be a good idea and finish craving more. Mark Skelton hosts around 800 races a year and “The Big 15” is his best work. We are fortunate to have somebody like Mark in our racing community doing such good work for us half-witted trail racers.

Racing should feel like punishment. Hopefully your opponent is punished, but it’s really about punishing yourself. If you aren’t doing what my running circle calls “riding the pain train”, you are jogging. You aren’t trying hard enough. Bays Mountain inflicts pain from start to finish. There is no safe way out. Racers and joggers alike suffer together.

Mark, you should consider re-naming the race “Satan’s Roller-Coaster Ride” due to the never-ending ups and downs of the course. My pride pushes me to not walk too much, but it’s not strong enough to make me run the whole race. The mountain proves its superiority by breaking every runner on it. Nobody finishes bragging about his/her pace, that’s for sure!

So, here’s to you Bays Mountain. You are the most beautiful and nastiest of the East Tennessee races. I love you. I hate you. See you next year.

Jeff Bloomer
September 2010